South Korea Ferry Survivors Comforted in Devastated Town

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ANSAN, South Korea — White-gowned teens rescued from the doomed South Korean ferry were comforted by dozens of classmates in a hospital near the capital on Friday.

Children, some crying and dressed in their brown and cream school uniforms, gathered in the lobby of the hospital in Ansan to visit with their injured classmates, who toted IV re-hydration drips. Most of the patients appeared unscathed, although one had a bandage under a very swollen right eye.

The hospital did not confirm the exact number of rescued students it was treating, but it was clear that this tight-knit industrial community on the outskirts of Seoul has been very badly hit by the disaster. The passengers of the ferry that capsized on Wednesday included 325 high school students heading to a southern island on a four-day field trip.

Some 28 on board were confirmed dead and 270 were missing. Officials lowered the number of survivors from 179 to 174 on Friday night.

Earlier, at the teenagers’ school, classmates cried, posted tributes and left flowers for the missing.

Members of the community reacted with shock after it was announced that the school’s vice principal, who had been rescued from the ferry as it was capsizing, was found hanged.